Arcadia vs San Marino – $1MM

San Marino. A city known for its large lots, strict zoning laws, specific architectural design standards and the intent on keeping things the way they are. This is the city that people always compare South Pasadena to, but never the other way around. If you want to talk about old money, new money and foreign money, then look here first. As some of you pointed out earlier this week, Arcadia is for the leftover poor-rich folks.

And those concerned with education? San Marino Unified schools are consistently ranked among the top California public institutions.

With a median sales price of $1,940,000 in May, you can expect to pay an arm and a leg to call this city your home. Because there are no apartments in San Marino, wannabe posers are not welcomed.

1365 S San Gabriel Blvd.
San Marino, CA 91108

Price: $1,035,188 ($526 per sq. ft.)

  • Beds: 2
  • Baths: 1.5
  • Sq. Ft.: 1,968
  • Lot Size: 10,500 Sq. Ft.

A $1MM home in San Marino is on the “lower end” on the median so you should expect to make compromises. This home sits on the busy section of San Gabriel Blvd. just south of Huntington. This is more like North San Gabriel and appears to be very old and in major need of a gut+remodel.

Of course, we can conclude that this home may not even be worth $1,035,188. Just look at the listing price history:

Listing History

Jan 24, 2008 $1,098,888
Feb 09, 2008 $1,049,888
Feb 23, 2008 $1,050,000
Mar 01, 2008 $1,060,000
Apr 07, 2008 $1,081,888
May 13, 2008 $1,020,000
Jun 11, 2008 $1,030,000
Jun 22, 2008 $1,035,188

2225 S Los Robles Ave.
San Marino, CA 91108

Price: $1,049,000 ($589 per sq. ft.)

  • Beds: 3
  • Baths: 2
  • Sq. Ft.: 1,782
  • Lot Size: 8,967 Sq. Ft.

While the first property was bordering North San Gabriel, this one is close to North Alhambra. It’s a very charming property built in 1956.

Based on the previous sales price, this home is no doubt overpriced. Some flipper bought it for $805,000 in February 2008 and now trying to make a quarter million dollar profit after 5 months. WTH.

There are a ton of million dollar properties in San Marino in similar condition as these two: old, sub-prime condition and overpriced. I promise that we will see much nicer properties once I start comparing $2MM+ homes!

16 thoughts on “Arcadia vs San Marino – $1MM”

  1. I have a general question to all the bloggers:

    How much are you willing to “sacrifice” so your kids can attend a premeire schoool district? My wife and I are currently questioning ourselves with that question. If we choose to purchase a home in San Marino, it would strictly be for the schools. However, is it worth it to pay in excess of $1M on a property so our kids can attend the schools, and at the same time, live in a home that would sell for under $650k anywhere else. (Our affordability range tops at $1.2M, so anything priced above that would not be financially prudent for our family.)

  2. I know some Chinese have a thing with numbers, but to those of you in the business, does having 8’s in the price actually attract and motivate buyers? I’m Chinese but even I have to shake my head at the apparent nonsense.

    Also, the listing price history for the first property is amusing – what’s with the minimal price adjustments up and down?

  3. Yea, I wish some Realtor or agent would stop by and help us explain the reason for multiple small price adjustments. From a buyer’s perspective, it screams of desperation and a horrible grasp of their property’s true market value.

    If you think about it, would you enlist the help of a Realtor who can’t figure out what price your home would sell for? Despite our dismal housing market, I know plenty of friends who are willing to be knife-catchers… at the right price.

  4. phantom600rr,

    If you have your heart set on San Marino schools, there are some houses in the city of Pasadena that are part of the San Marino school district. These houses are typically much lower price than if they were in San Marino. Get a school boundary map for the San Marino district and keep an eye out for houses that go on sale that are in Pasadena. The houses are far and few, but they do pop up once in a while. And of course verify the address with the district.

  5. “8” is definitely not a lucky number for China this year-first the snow storm, earthquake, flooding, now locusts…what next? maybe the collapse of the housing bubbles in Beijing and Shanghai.

  6. You have to put a price on your child’s education. A better way of posing the question is this: if you lived in some place with no good public education, what would you be willing to pay to get it, and for how many children?

    Many people peg the value of a child’s pre-college education as anywhere from 5K to 20K per year, for about 12 years. As I have debated with other posters on this blog, it is not clear that you can make the case that buying into San Marino will guarantee you will get all of the benefits of that school district for the entire period of time. In addition to the unknowables that force you to have to leave your house before your kids finish their education, there is the possibility of the school district changing policies or not maintaining its standards.

    School districts used to be accurately priced into the cost of housing – I would say in the last 10 years, they have gotten disproportionately out of sync with the relative value of the house. If you can afford 1.2 million for a house that you feel is equivalent to a $650K someplace else, it would seem unless you have many, many children you are unlikely to benefit from this transaction.

  7. Thank you for your comments. We have been looking out for San Gabriel and Pasadena zip codes within San Marino schools. Prices are pretty much the same, so we might as well purchase in official San Marino address if we do decide to live in the city.

  8. The houses in the unincorporated County areas with San Marino schools are not much lower in terms of price per square feet. The only benefit is that in the unincorporated areas you will be able to find a smaller home on a smaller lot, and hence lower price. As one can see from the featured listings here, even a <2000 sq. ft. house on a very busy street in San Marino is going for $1M. From what I see in MRMLS, I think these houses should be able to fetch at least in the $900’s. On the other hand, I saw a couple listings recently in the unincorporated areas sell in the high $700’s to low 800’s, but they were smaller homes.

    There are some drawbacks being in an unincorporated area, however. For example, no sidewalks (I love the extra wide sidewalks in SM), LA County Sheriff for police service, code enforcement and planning not as strict (you see a lot of McMansions interspersed with older homes like in Arcadia), reliance on the County for street maintenance, repairs, etc., etc. Schools are important, for sure, but there are other important considerations. Basically, other than the schools, the unincorporated areas do not feel like San Marino at all. The premium on unincorporated areas with San Marino schools has gotten so large in the past 4 or 5 years that IMO you’re better off buying in San Marino if you could afford it.

    If schools is the primary consideration, I would look at Cerritos. Some of the areas in Cerritos have elementary schools in the mid 900s like San Marino. I believe Carmenita Jr. High is almost 900 and of course there’s Whitney High if your kid is smart enough to get in. And you’d save a lot of $.

  9. Donkey,

    Thanks for the insight. You’ve touched upon really important points that many people forget to consider; myself included!

  10. San Marino is another one of those communities where people lose all common sense. Those 2 “baja” SM homes is proof of desperation. It exists in all ‘desirable’ areas. Why on earth pay over a million dollars and nearly $1k/mo in property tax to live in a fixer with less than 2k sf?

    People this is insane! There are top and better rated schools in Texas, Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, etc. where $500k gets you a real mansion with 20,000sf lots if that’s you game.

    I just hope this stupidity continues long enough so I can sell my place to the next kool aid drinker. I have already spotted my homes. Yes homes as in more than one. I figure I can unload my place and buy a place in the mountains near Julian for summers and in Cabo for winters. I’ll still have over $400k left over.

  11. If you think it is just a matter of packing and moving to another state, then you are delirious. People live where they can make the most money in order for them to afford the things that they want. Aside from a person’s career choice, there are many others factors in deciding where someone want to establish their roots and take care of their families. Why don’t you think about this before judging people to be insane and making decisions you are unable to make yourself.

  12. One small house in a nice street found in zillow:
    405 winthrop Rd, San Marino, Ca 91108
    Asking for $889K

  13. This house was recently reduced to 800K. That puts it in Arcadia territory as far as pricing. I wonder if San Marino home owners are more resonable than Arcadia. I dont see much price reduction in Arcadia at all. If these sellers don’t seriously reduce their prices, they will never sell their homes. Most of them have doubled their initial investments depending on when they bought their homes. If they just dropped their prices 25% they might sell their homes and walk away with a good profit. Since most won’t, they will have to suffer the headache of listing their homes and reducing the price 4% every six months for the next ten years. Of course they could rent it out, if they can afford that. That’s bad for the overall community.

  14. I guess at this point with a very small number of mortgages being approved and sales dropping to 0, that the list price is skewed. The numbers I see on Zillow and Trulia is that sales prices are 30% below list prices on homes. I would start negotiating at at least 25% below list.

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